Ohio Voters Preserve Union Rights of Ohio's Public Workers


collective bargaining vote


In one of the more striking election results Tuesday, Ohioans voted by a surprising 61-39 majority to reject SB5, legislation that would have virtually eliminated public employee union representation in their state.


It may be recalled that back in the spring – alongside Governor Scott Walker’s legislative push to strip Wisconsin public workers of most collective bargaining rights – Ohio Governor John Kasich made a parallel effort in Ohio. When 'Senate Bill 5' was under consideration, Ohio’s Catholic Bishops urged “changes that promote the common good without eliminating collective bargaining,” but Kasich and a majority of the legislature plowed ahead.


Walker has adopted a defiant tone in response to repeated signs of public dissatisfaction with his confrontational approach toward public workers. Kasich, however, struck a more graceful note. "I've heard their voices, I understand their decision and, frankly, I respect what people have to say in an effort like this," he said. "And as a result of that, it requires me to take a deep breath, you know, and to spend some time reflecting on what happened here."


Public finances are still in dire condition due to the economic crisis, and given the magnitude of the shortfalls everyone from the top 1% to the public worker will rightly be called upon to make sacrifices. But as the Wisconsinbishopsobserved during their state’s dispute, “hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers.” Here’s hoping that with the Ohio vote and Governor Kasich’s response, we have seen an end to the current round of attacks on the right to organize and a fresh start for the search for negotiated solutions to our current challenges.

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Gary Kaminski
7 years 2 months ago
As I re-read my comment I see how the thoughts could be better developed and expressed, but it is really a moot point.  When I was hired I offerd to join the local but didn't want any part of the NEA. It couldn't be done so I didn't join. At the time 'fair share' was not part of our contract and when it became so, I and a few others were grandfathered exempt. I consider the thousands of dollars in union dues I've saved over the years as partial compensation for what I could have earned in a free market - my credentials are hard to come by.

Regardless, reform is still needed starting with the seniority system.  I've seen really good young teachers laid off while dead weight stays on.  If we're truly putting the children first, a district should be able to keep their best people.  If not, you have to admit that you are putting the contract and the association ahead of the best interests of the students.
Gary Kaminski
7 years 2 months ago
I'm a public school teacher in Ohio who vote FOR the ballot issue.  I certainly DO support workers rights including a right not to join an organization I totally disagree with.  I know the union has negotiated my contract even though I am not a member, but I'd be willing to be on my own.  Let the contract apply just to the union members and leave me to the mercy of my employer.  If I find I'm getting hosed I'll come and join and you can charge me a premium on top of my dues. I actually think union scale is holding me back though.  The union is dead set against merit pay and will never accept a differentiated pay scale for harder to fill positions like advanced sciences or special ed. 

I also think public employees could be served quite well by civil service regulations without a union.  We've never had the miserable conditions in industry that were only alleviated by organizing.  To quote an article I read - nobody ever heard of the death toll at the great DMV cave in or read Upton Sinclair's sequel to The Jungle about the dangerous life of second grade teachers. 
Vince Killoran
7 years 2 months ago
If the teachers voted for the union's recognition in the workplace in a democratic electionn then Gary should abide by the process.  If he doesn't like the union then he is free to gather support to decertify the union.  That's the way democracy works.

I love how anti-union commentators always hold up workers in the worst paid and unsafe jobs as proof somehow that no one else deserve CB rights.  Sure, teachers never had limbs sawed off or breathed in coal dust in their classroom-but they had substandard pay and few workplace rights before a union.  The history is clear about that.  I have worked in a school with a union and one without and I can tell you that CB rights were an important deterrant to autocratic administrators.
ed gleason
7 years 2 months ago
Gary says ...'If I find I'm getting hosed I'll come and join and you can charge me a premium on top of my dues'
The other Ohio ballet measure, was lost due to the same idea Gary mentions. The voters rejected the mandate on health insurance because they too complained that they did not need the collective insurance because they were now healthy ...... they will chip in  when they need it. Especially the young say 'Why force me have health insurance. if the motorcycle crashes and I  have a half million dollar medical bill I will chip in and help pay'...  we say..sure thanks for the promise....
Vince Killoran
7 years 2 months ago
It is true that, on average, workers in organized workplaces (w/CB) earn more than those not in organized workplaces. Even those in places without unions, but where the "union threat" exist, earn more than sectors that are generally union free.

I take your point about young, talented teachers losing jobs and I acknowledge that there are some senior teachers who are not as capable in the classroom.  But there are cases over the years where chiseling employers and administrators fire older workers as a way of saving money.  There are anti-discrimination laws but they are mostly ineffective.

What is the answer?  More rigorous tenure procedures.  Teacher unions have supported these in most cases but administrators want to shut teachers out of the process. You would never know this from such anti-union reformers as the creators of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN (http://www.thenation.com/article/154986/grading-waiting-superman?page=0,0).
ed gleason
7 years 2 months ago
Gary, I have a few family union members but I agree there is need for reform in how public employee Unions have  exercised to much muscle on politicians to give sweetheart contracts. Reform but no destruction is the answer. We just passed public pension reform in San Francisco which is very very pro-labor.
Stanley Kopacz
7 years 2 months ago
In the present situation, the actual fairness or lack there of of the public sector unions is not the point.  The republican governors' agenda is to achieve the final coup-de-grace in the destruction of American unionism.  It is a matter of distribution of power and I like power distributed.  If union demands are overreaching, if the system needs reform, then use the powers of negotiation and debate in the public forum.

For my part, I know some older teachers and they all seem to be conscientious and dealing with the Procrustean bed of standardized testing as well as they can. 

It might be better to join a union to reform it from within.  The idea of the guild might be useful as an ideal, maintaining the skill level and quality of its members while maintaining their rights.

I think there are savings to be explored in the bloated salaries and numbers of managers in education.

I am very sceptical about the need for education courses and their accompanying costs.  I think I would be a good physics and mathematics teacher in a high school, but I would have to take some phoney baloney courses.  High school physics teachers I know have had that opinion of these courses.

C Walter Mattingly
7 years 2 months ago
Ohio voters have every right to retain collective bargaining for their public employee union members. If they want their children to attend school systems which promote teachers on seniority rather than performance, support a corporate monopoly whose personal enrichment takes priority over the eduation of children in their schools, encumber themselves with fat-cat, cadillac benefits and pensions whose legacy burdens will remain with their children and grandchildren for decades, fight off any possible competition that in any way threaten their monopolies, and are content with a third quartile education for their children, then they have every right to all of the above.
Gary, I only hope that some of those excellent young teachers. whose dedication likely discomfited the union mentality, find a school system that rewards excellence rather than the status quo of seniority. Perhaps they will locate a state where citizens are not satisfied with a very expensive union-government complex juggernaut led, as you recognize, by the NEA which produces such poor results and whose horrid 40 year underperformance is perhaps the greatest, though underrecognized, contributor to the economic decline of our American middle class. 

There is a lesson in Ohio for Republican governors, though. Whereas Rahm Emanuel can lead with his chin in attacking the public union boondoggles because he has democratic credentials and is therefore granted immunity from the largely democratic union-government complex that is draining the public coffers, Republicans have no such free pass. They would better emulate Mitch Daniels in Indiana, who got the job done without such fanfare, and whose state has since moved from deficit to a small surplus as a result.   
Jim McCrea
7 years 2 months ago
Walker is ripe for being a candidate for impeachment, or being voted out, whichever can come first.

A word to the wise should be sufficient but, in his case, wisdom doesn't appear to be his strong suit.


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